You find a box of crackers in your pantry that's past its best before date — do you eat it? While in many cases, expiry dates are important indicators of how safe the food is to consume, but with some foods it's more of a guideline. Here are some foods that are likely good to eat past the expiration date.
CANNED GOODS The expiry date of canned foods usually indicates three years from when it's been shelved, but you can consume them past the date for up to four more years. Make sure to keep your canned goods in a cool, dry spot though, and if there are any dents, rust or leaking, that's when it's time to ditch the goods.
Hard cheeses such as cheddar and Parmesan are still alright to eat even after mold has started to form. Just make sure to cut off any moldy parts before consuming. Generally, hard cheeses are okay to eat for a month past the expiration date.
Not everyone likes the same cereal in a household. If members in your family enjoy different brands, those cereal boxes can stock up and take longer to consume. Rest assured, cereal is okay to eat for up to six months past the best before date — so long as you can handle the stale flavour!
Eggs are another staple that people don't always use up within the expiry date label. Here's a trick to check if eggs have gone without cracking them open: place in a bowl of water to check its buoyancy. If it sinks, it's still safe to eat; if it floats, throw it in the compost bin.
Ice-cold temperatures prevents foods from going bad, so any packed frozen foods are generally safe to eat past the expiration date. If the food gets freezer burn due to dehydration caused by oxidation it won't be very tasty. However, if you're feeling frugal, freezer burn food is still safe to eat.
COOKIES, CRACKERS AND CHIPS When cookies or chips get old, the stale taste is quite obvious. But as long as it doesn't smell bad (the oils in the cookie may go off over a long period of time), and it doesn't crumble apart in your hand, then it's okay to eat more of those snacks.
BUTTER If your butter is about to expire, pop it into the freezer to keep it fresh for longer. Keep in mind that it's best to use it all once you've thawed it. Have quite a bit of butter left over? Use it for your next baking recipe.
BREAD The best by date on fresh bread is assuming you're keeping your loaf sitting on the counter. But so long as you don't see mold growing on your grains, it should be okay to eat. If you want to extend the shelf life of your bread, store it in the fridge — it can last for up to two weeks — or keep it in the freezer.
SALAD MIXES Those packages of salad mixes, spinach and arugula are okay to eat past the due date. If the leaves have wilted, just cut off those bits before use. When your greens are starting to decay though (think mushy, slimy leaves), it's time to chuck.
Pasta won't spoil easily because it's a dry product. You can use it well past the expiration date, so long as it doesn't smell funny (egg pasta can produce a rancid odour). Generally, dry pasta has a shelf life of two years, but you can typically push it to three.
FINAL TIP When in doubt, use your senses. If something smells bad or looks off-colour, throw it away!
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